By Ginger Allen, CBS 11 News

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Aundria Arlandson remembers the day she noticed a tick on her cat’s back. She picked up Sergeant’s Flea and Tick Powder at the store. “I looked at the can and brought it home and applied it to my cat not thinking anything was going to happen to him. I thought it was completely safe,” she said.

Arlandson claims her cat had a seizure, his health deteriorated and he died. Now, she’s one of dozens of people across the country taking some well-known pet companies to court.

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The lawsuits are against Sergeant’s Pet Care, Hartz Mountain Corporation and Summit VetPharm. Last year alone, the environmental protection agency got more than 39,000 complaints about some of the products.

Pet owners all over the country are claiming over-the-counter flea and tick products have hurt or killed their dogs and cats.

Dr. Wendy Dearixon has practiced veterinary medicine in Dallas for 20 years, and she’s seen these products misused many times. “I would say it’s been a problem for at least the last ten year, both with over the county products that were intended for cats and also with people misusing products that were intended for dogs.”

Pyrethrins are the active ingredients in many of these products. The insecticides are derived from chrysanthemums, and research shows they can be toxic to cats.

“It’s just ridiculous that no one has stepped in to really do anything about this,” said Arlandsom, who went to Washington D.C. for a meeting with the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Scientist told her they’re already studying the products. “These are pesticides, and these are designed to kill things so they’re to be taken very seriously,” explained Marty Monell with the EPA, who believes most problems are caused when pet owners don’t read the directions or use products designed for dogs on cats.

Aundria Arlandson insists she followed the directions on the box and has vowed to continue to tell her story and push the EPA to take action. “I told him I wasn’t going to let it happen to another kitty, another animal, ever. I said there will never be another animal like you, ever,” she aid adamantly.

Arlandson says the goal of her lawsuit is to get the active ingredient in many over-the-counter flea and tick treatments changed. The companies mentioned in this story said that safety is their number one priority and that the products are safe when used properly.

CBS 11 received the following statement from Sergeant’s:

“Sergeant’s flea and tick products are safe and effective when used as directed. Earlier this year, an EPA study concluded that out of the 270 million doses sold in 2008, 16 out of 100,000 doses resulted in an alleged incident being reported, so 99.9984 percent of the users had no incident. The EPA study also concluded that the vast majority of adverse reactions to flea and tick squeeze-on products were caused by misapplication or misuse of the products. For example, a product specified for dogs should never be applied to cats, and products specified for larger animals should not be used on smaller ones.

It is important for the safety of pets that their owners know how to properly use flea and tick products. Consumers need to read the directions for all flea and tick products carefully before applying them to their pets. Sergeant’s agrees the number one cause of pets’ adverse reactions to flea and tick products is misuse or misapplication, and has been working to educate consumers with their “look at the label” campaign since 2005.

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Sergeant’s has already taken steps to make its labels easier for all consumers to read and understand. Sergeant’s continues to innovate through product development and increase consumer awareness in order to improve the lives of pets and their families.
Sergeant’s makes it a practice to not comment on specific facts relating to pending litigation.”